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Autism Therapy Mandate Extended, But Not Everyone Benefits


Proponents of the law say more than 12,000 kids in California have benefitted from the service since the law went into effect a little over a year ago.

That benefit is now guaranteed until the end of 2016.

Karen Fessel of the Autism Health Insurance Project says the therapy is not cheap, but it’s highly effective.

“In the long run, it can make the difference between having a child that grows up to become a fully functional adult, that can work, and hold a job and earn income,” says Fessel.  

But the behavioral health treatment requirement does not extend to the Medi-Cal program, which benefits low income families.

Although the state says ‘medically necessary’ services like speech and physical therapy are offered through Medi-Cal.  

Senate staff who worked on the bill said the initial law did not extend to Medi-Cal because the state was in difficult financial times.

But they will be looking into expanding the benefit in the coming legislative session.

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